SALT LAKE CITY – The Houston Rockets already know how to win in Utah. They dominated Friday’s game three, leading by as much as 38 points before settling for the 21-point victory.
They also won both of their regular season games in Utah, each by eleven points. A win in Sunday’s game four would push the Rockets to within one win of clinching the series, advancing to the western conference finals and avoiding a second trip to Utah.
Here are several keys to game four for the Rockets.
Be the early aggressor
Houston made five of their first six shots in game three. They forced six Jazz turnovers in the first nine minutes of game three. Essentially they won the game in the first quarter and simply kept their foot on the gas the rest of the way. As much it broke the spirits of the Jazz players, it eliminated the Utah crowd from impacting the game.
Attack the lane
The Rockets are one of the best teams in the league in reading defenses and for the most part, the Jazz are trying to push out on Houston’s three-point shooters and force the dribble. Utah believes with Rudy Gobert protecting the rim, it’s the lesser of two evils. Houston connected on 31 two-point field goals in their game three win. Only once this season did they make more of those shots in a game. All that while still getting up 36 three-point shots, missing many that were wide-open on their way to shooting just 31 percent behind the arc.
Take care of the ball
The Jazz have shot the ball well overall in this series, so the Rockets have benefitted from not giving them many extra possessions. Houston has turned the ball over just 29 times in the three games, while the Jazz has turned it over 51 times total, with at least 16 flubs in each contest. In 187 combined minutes in this series, Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker have combined zero turnovers.